I took the opportunity last month to hit the road, to check out some of the things folks are working on, their view of the industry, and where they think things are going.

In Charlotte, N.C.—where for sheer size the motor speedway makes Yankee Stadium look like a little league field—we stopped in at LEAD Technologies, which makes LEADTOOLS, an imaging SDK. (It’s also located next to an OEM bakery; the wafting aromas could actually drive you insane!)

Company cofounder Rich Little (not the impressionist) said this software is critical for any developer writing an app that has to, for instance, capture the image of a check during a workflow process, or to capture and transmit images of car wrecks for insurance purposes and police reports.

He spoke of multimedia apps, such as those that collect surveillance video for processing, or even NASA applications that require images from space to form the basis of scientific computations. “It all rolls back to image processing, compression, resolution and file format,” he said.

Later, it was off to Boston, where I met with Red Hat’s Pierre Fricke. He talked about the shift in discussion from the “intelligent integrated enterprise” to the “enlightened enterprise.” It’s the delivery of cloud services that include business process management, application development, integration and mobile that help organizations derive great value while delivering great value to their customers.

After a while, the conversation with Fricke turned to more mundane things, such as the problems he faced after deciding to buy his car at the end of its lease. The bank required him to collect documentation from the DMV, the insurance company, the dealer and more, and he was required to deliver it in person. He then mused, “Wouldn’t it be great if the bank were an enlightened enterprise, where I would simply tell it of my intention to buy out the car, and it would go out and collect the documentation it required electronically?”

As it happened, my Windows tablet device was stolen during this trip, and I called the police, who told me I had to come to the station in person to file the report. Oh, and before I did that, I’d need the serial number of the device, a sales receipt, identification and other supporting documentation. I lamented that this was too onerous, and offered that there should be a system in place where when I call the police, they electronically gather the necessary information.

Fricke, though, saw an opportunity. What if the carrier, like Verizon, took on the responsibility? Then, you’d simply report the device stolen to Verizon, and it would have a photo of the device and its serial number on file, would reach out to the police to begin the process of filing a report, would contact the store for the receipt, and would even lock it down to deny access to the new user.

Further, he wondered, what if the carrier offered this service as a monthly subscription? Lose your phone or tablet, or have it stolen, and one phone call sets everything you need in motion.

That, he declared, is an enlightened enterprise. He then said he had to leave the meeting to begin his consulting career with Verizon. He was joking, but this is the promise of (fill in the blank)-as-a-Service technology, and image processing, and document collaboration in the cloud. To make life better.

We’ll get there soon. But I’d really like my tablet back now.